Those who refuse to take COVID-19 vaccines are creating a deadly domino effect, a Michigan doctor warned during a Wednesday news conference.
They are getting sick, spreading the virus to loved ones and the community, filling hospital beds, and using up scarce medical resources, said Dr. Marschall Runge, CEO of Michigan Medicine and dean of the University of Michigan Medical School.
“The bottom line is COVID-19 is not only life-threatening for those who have COVID-19. The surge of COVID-19 is putting others at risk by keeping us from delivering lifesaving care,” he said, for everything from heart attacks to cancer to strokes.
The number of Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 reached 200 million Wednesday amid a dispiriting holiday-season spike in cases and hospitalizations. Runge said the death rate from cardiovascular disease went up 3% in 2020 after years of steady declines because people delayed treatment.
New COVID cases in the U.S. climbed from an average of nearly 95,000 a day on Nov. 22 to almost 119,000 a day this week, and hospitalizations are up 25% from a month ago. The increases are due almost entirely to the delta variant, though the omicron mutation has been detected in about 20 states and is sure to spread even more.
Deaths are running close to 1,600 a day on average, back up to where they were in October. And the overall U.S. death toll less than two years into the crisis could hit another heartbreaking milestone, 800,000, in a matter of days.
The unvaccinated make up the vast majority of hospitalized COVID-19 patients at Michigan Medicine, Runge said, and every coronavirus patient who is on a ventilator is unvaccinated.
“It’s a dire situation across the state right now,” Runge said. “The state of Michigan reached a record high (number of) hospitalized COVID-19 patients this week — the highest number since the very beginning of the pandemic, now more than a year and a half ago.”
— Kristen Jordan Shamus, Detroit Free Press
Also in the news:
►About 34,000 students have yet to comply with Los Angeles Unified School District’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Non-vaccinated students will either have to enroll in the district’s independent study program or leave L.A.’s public school system.
►More than 40 people in the U.S. have been found to be infected with the omicron variant so far, and more than three-quarters of them had been vaccinated, the chief of the CDC said Wednesday.
?Today’s numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 49.5 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 793,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 267.7 million cases and 5.2 million deaths. More than 200 million Americans – 60% of the population – are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.
?What we’re reading: The COVID-19 pandemic, as a health emergency accompanied by disruption and isolation for families and children, has aggravated mental health issues for both adults and children, research shows.
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Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week could help answer questions about what types of non-COVID deaths increased during the pandemic and which COVID-19 deaths have been misclassified as something else, such as a death from heart disease, stroke or a respiratory illness. Andrew Stokes, an assistant professor of demography and sociology at Boston University’s Department of Global Health, says the new data allows researchers to “drill down” to the county level and see how the pandemic is evolving locally.
“That is unprecedented compared to where we were at just a year ago,” Stokes said. “In a public health emergency, real-time surveillance is critical.”
– Dillon Bergin, Betsy Ladyzhets, Mohar Chatterjee and Derek Kravitz, Brown Institute for Media Innovation
Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin, one of the world’s youngest elected leaders, apologized this week after facing backlash for spending a night out in Helsinki after she was exposed to COVID-19. Marin explained in a Facebook post on Monday that she was told Saturday that Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto had tested positive after being in close contact with her. But she said she was told ministers were not asked to quarantine as long as they had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
So, Marin and her husband met with friends and went for dinner that night. The 36-year-old prime minister wrote on Facebook that she left her work phone at home and didn’t immediately receive further guidance recommending she avoid contact with others.
“I should have used better consideration on Saturday night … I’m really sorry,” she said in the post, as translated in multiple reports. She added that she tested negative for the virus on Sunday.
— Marina Pitofsky, USA TODAY
Contributing: The Associated Press